How much does it cost to find a new job? A lot of it depends on your industry, job level, and how long the process lasts. According to Jobvite’s latest data, it takes an average of 28 days from application to hire – but that’s assuming you get that all-important first call for an interview. In addition, the higher up the corporate ladder you go, the longer your job search is likely to take. C-suite executives should expect an average of five interviews per opportunity, Jobvite says, while associates and assistants might only endure three.
Either way, the longer you spend job hunting, the more money you’re prone to spend on stuff like looking sharp and commuting to interviews. Other costs add up, too: Hire a resume writer or career coach, and you can add hundreds (possibly thousands) of dollars to your tab. Even smaller fees, like upgrading to a premium LinkedIn account, will cost you.
But when you’re looking for work, of course, you’re probably not in a position to throw money around. And the more cash you can keep in your bank account, the longer you can hold out for the job of your dreams. Here are a few expenses you can skip and ways to save money during your search, without negatively impacting your job prospects.
1. Cut the dry cleaning.
If you don’t have to wear a suit to work, you probably don’t have to wear one to the job interview. That doesn’t mean dressing like a slob — your nicest business casual is appropriate. Don’t wear jeans, T-shirts, or anything you’d wear to clean out the garage. For most people, this means clothing you can wash, which means big savings. Just don’t forget to run the iron over that button-down and you’re good to go.
2. No crazy gifts for hiring managers.
We get it: You want to stand out from the competition. But there’s a good way and a bad way to do that.
The good way? Creating an interactive ad for yourself when you’re applying to a digital marketing agency. The bad way? Anything that makes you look like a crazy person.
“We had one applicant arrive unannounced at the office with a cherry pie she had baked that morning,” Carolyn Turner, a business coach in Portland, Ore., told CareerBuilder. “She explained that she wanted to stand out from all the other applicants — which she did, but just in a scary, stalkerish kind of way.”
Skip the stalker gifts; save the cash. No one expects to get your resume printed on dozens of chocolate bars.
3. Don’t buy software you can get for free.
When you’re desperate for a change – or a source of income after a layoff – it’s pretty easy to convince yourself that paying for that fax software or productivity app is a reasonable expense. Then you get hired, and never use it again.
Before you buy, do your research. Chances are, there’s a free (or very cheap) version out there that will accomplish the same thing. Trent compiled a helpful list of free, open software a few years ago.
A Premium Career account on LinkedIn will run you $24.99 a month (billed annually) after a free month-long trial. For that, you get job insights that compare your qualifications to open roles, salary data, featured applicant status, and three free InMails to recruiters or employees at your target employer. You also get to see who’s looked at your profile, which is fun in an old-school social media way.
But do you need it? Probably not, especially if you’re just starting out your job search and haven’t spent the time optimizing your free profile yet.
The same goes for paid job search sites. Chances are, you could get the same services for free on Monster, Indeed, SimplyHired, and others. Plus, you’re vastly more likely to get your next job through networking, anyway. One recent survey showed that up to 85% of jobs are filled that way.
So by all means, beef up your professional profile, and expand your network by connecting with former colleagues and other people you know. But don’t feel like you need to pay for the extras.
5. Stop going on job interviews for gigs you don’t want.
You can’t avoid every useless job interview, but you can start getting tough with yourself about figuring out what you want – and what you don’t want – in your next job. Interview practice is all well and good, but it’s also important to respect everyone’s time (including your own).
What does this mean? Well, if you hate working for startups, don’t be lured by stock options and free cereal into an interview that will lead to a job you hate. The opposite is also true: if you can’t stand hierarchy, don’t squeeze yourself into the corporate mold, just to tell yourself you’re trying. Also, pay attention to signs that the company isn’t right for you: If they cancel multiple interviews, you’re not dealing with respectful potential colleagues. Ditto if they’ve been late to previous meetings.
Bottom line, sometimes it’s not worth the bus fare. Learn to recognize that, and you’ll save yourself money, time, and aggravation.
6. Use your network instead of a career coach.
Networking can help you find job leads, but it can also help you prepare to land gigs once you hear about them. The catch: You have to be willing to ask for – and take – constructive criticism.
If you can stomach that, you’ll have no problem finding folks in your field who will tell you what you need to do to get from where you are now to where you want to be.
What might surprise you: Most of them will probably be pretty kind about it. Everyone loves being asked for their expert opinion.
7. Don’t forget that you can deduct some job-hunting expenses.
Some of your job search expenses may be tax-deductible. The IRS has a handy guide to help you find out if your resume costs, travel expenses, and other costs related to your job search are covered.